Ethical Decisions – and the study of philosophy and ethics
9th February 2007
I was reading a comment over at the UNF philsophy blog:(here) where a UNF philosophy student [I think] relates a (rather frightening) real-life incident that she was involved in – and then relates it to the topic at hand (the ‘Golden Rule’ in ethics):
But you can bet if I wake up and find a burglar in my home, the furthest thing
from my mind will be the golden rule, however conceived or applied. And when I
call 911, it won’t be because I have reasoned that doing so will restore a
person’s soul to a state of virtue. More particularly, I won’t be doing that
type of reasoning while the burglar is in my home.
Here is a point about how we decide – the process in the split-second moment – and whether we at that point apply any moral theory at all. Maybe we just act on instinct (that’s what is sometimes feels like). OR perhaps we implicitly apply some set of crtieria? Or maybe it is habit/training?
The second thing I thought about after reading this was: Does the study of ethics make you a better person?
[This is very pertinent in the UK, as many more people seem to be studying philosophy and ethics at A level
A-Levels (split into As/A2) are what UK students do between school and University – normally around the ages 16-18
AS and A2 Religious Studies now have a large portion of this type of material in them]
There could be numerous answers:
- Yes – I now think about others much more, and more concerned to act in an appropriate manner.
- No – but I am better at justifying my actions (actually driven by my lusts) to others as ethical.
- No – it has no impact.
- I still act the same – but tend to feel worse about it aftewards than I used to…
I am sure there are other answers – but wanted to ask readers: has the study of philosophy & religion (esp. ethics) changed you as a person?
Answers welcome from our Religion, Philosophy and Ethics students – and anyone else who has studied topics with an ethical/philosophical aspect: what did it do to you…